A delayed flight caused Craig Newitt to miss his Epsom Handicap ride but the top Victorian jockey still made his trip count with a Group One victory aboard The Verminator in the Metropolitan at Randwick.
Mechanical problems with Newitt’s plane meant his flight was delayed by 1-1/2 hours and he didn’t get to Randwick in time for the Epsom, with apprentice Blake Spriggs his replacement aboard the unplaced Light Brigade.
Newitt jumped aboard Tai Tai Tess a race later, finishing sixth to runaway Flight Stakes winner Streama, but The Verminator made his whirlwind trip worthwhile.
“If it (flight) had been delayed another half an hour I probably wouldn’t have got here,” Newitt said.
“I was devastated when I knew I couldn’t get here (for the Epsom). I was only about 10 minutes late.
“But I knew I still had a couple of good rides.”
One of five Metropolitan (2400m) runners for Chris Waller on Saturday, The Verminator ($21) raced handy throughout and exploded away in the straight to hold stablemate Hawk Island ($14) at bay by 2-3/4 lengths with Lamasery ($5.50) another head back.
It was a roller-coaster race for Waller with one of his quintet, Bellagio Wynn, losing rider Jay Ford about 800m out although horse and jockey escaped serious injury.
The Verminator had finished fifth in the Newcastle Cup at his previous run but Waller said he wasn’t suited by the firm track that day and appreciated the sting out of the ground at Randwick.
“I could have easily pulled the pin after Newcastle but I was adamant it was just the track up there,” Waller said.
“Had he won that he would have probably started favourite here so we thought, ‘we have to keep going’ and fortunately we did.”
Both The Verminator and Hawk Island will press on to Melbourne and the Caulfield Cup (2400m) in two weeks.
“Most people get carried away and say they’re going to run in a Caulfield Cup and I’ll be part of that,” Waller said.
Trusting was backed from $4 into $3 favouritism but could finish only seventh while Gai Waterhouse fell short of claiming a record eighth win in the Metropolitan with her two runners, Tullamore and Herculian Prince, finishing eighth and 11th respectively.